First, I appreciate that there are lots of similar questions to this online, but they are often so specific that I haven't been able to solve this question myself (through online forums/questions/etc).

I have a phone with 8GBs of internal storage, as can be seen from the first picture below. ~3GBs of this is used up by Android OS; ~5GBs remains, of which I am using ~4.5GBs. (This leads to issues with not being able to update, etc, due to lack of space.)


All reasonable so far. However, as the next picture shows, of that 4.5GBs used (separate to the 3GBs for Android OS), Apps uses ~2.1GBs and Cached data only ~33MBs. Hopefully my question is clear now:

where is the remaining 2.4GBs?


  • Internal storage includes all your pictures and downloads, especially WhatsApp Media is wasting space. connect PC via USB (MTP) and move DCIM/Camera folder to your external MicroSD Card
    – alecxs
    Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 13:17
  • These are actually all stored on my SD card, so this isn't taking up Internal Storage. (Also, WhatsApp Media only had a couple of pictures in it)
    – Sam OT
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 9:02

4 Answers 4


You can examine storage usage from terminal with du

  • in your "about phone" settings, tap "build number" 7x (seven) times to unhide the hidden developer settings, then enable USB-Debugging in developer settings

  • on PC download platform_tools and busybox binary for your phones cpu architecture (armv7l), rename file "busybox" and copy it to platform_tools folder (i realized toybox is buggy, du works best with busybox)

  • open cmd.exe and navigate with cd command to folder where adb.exe is. connect the phone to PC with USB cable, then type the following commands (each line for its own)

     adb devices
     adb push busybox /data/local/tmp/
     adb shell
     chmod a+x /data/local/tmp/busybox
     /data/local/tmp/busybox du -acxhd1 /storage/emulated/0
  • repeat the last command on different folder for your needs. the last digit in parameters controls the depth (see full list for usage)

du is a command line utility for disk usage

CUBOT_KING_KONG:/ $ du --help
BusyBox v1.29.2.YDS (2018-08-01 20:19:15 UTC) multi-call binary.

Usage: du [-aHLdclsxhmk] [FILE]...

Summarize disk space used for each FILE and/or directory

        -a      Show file sizes too
        -L      Follow all symlinks
        -H      Follow symlinks on command line
        -d N    Limit output to directories (and files with -a) of depth < N
        -c      Show grand total
        -l      Count sizes many times if hard linked
        -s      Display only a total for each argument
        -x      Skip directories on different filesystems
        -h      Sizes in human readable format (e.g., 1K 243M 2G)
        -m      Sizes in megabytes
        -k      Sizes in kilobytes (default)

if you don't know your phones cpu architecture you can check the SoC from terminal

adb shell
head /proc/cpuinfo

the busybox binary will remain at your phones temp folder until you delete it

adb shell
rm /data/local/tmp/busybox
  • Thanks very much @alecxs! How do you know that my cpu architecture is armv7l? And is the architecture for my phone or the computer I am using?
    – Sam OT
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 11:40
  • Just a guess. You can check the SoC with adb shell head /proc/cpuinfo
    – alecxs
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 12:26
  • I'm sorry, I've been busy with moving and then being away. I should get to trying this mid September. Sorry for the delay!
    – Sam OT
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 21:06

It's not clear what Android means by "Apps", which is 2.10 GB. Total size of an app includes its apk file + extra native libraries (if any) + Dalvik cache + obb files + app's data + cache. Data and cache can be on internal (/data) as well as shared private storage (/sdcard/Android). I think the missing 2.4 GB could be apps data if not included in "Apps", or it could be your personal files in /sdcard.

For more details: How disk space is used on Android device?

  • When I try to update apps, or install apps, it often tells me that I don't have sufficient space, and I have to remove something. This doesn't seem to go with your last sentence about being in /sdcard/. I only have a few apps on the sd card; I'd move more, but they won't allow me (I tried, unsuccessfully, to root my phone)
    – Sam OT
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 21:08
  • 1
    @SamT on most of the recent devices, /sdcard isn't physically external SD card. /sdcard points to just a directory in internal storage i.e. /data/media/0. Android calls it external storage and divides it into public shared storage and private shared storage. If you read the given link, things will be clarified. Do you have physically external SD card at /sdcard? Which Android version you are on? Which device is yours? Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 21:49
  • Thanks, but I'm not sure how to find out if I have a physically external SD card at /sdcard. I certainly have a physical SD card in my phone! It's a Motorola MotoE 2nd Generation, running on Android 6.0 -- it's not rooted (I tried, multiple times, but haven't managed)
    – Sam OT
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 16:21
  • @SamT output of mount or df is enough to know what's mounted where. Root is not required. Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 16:23

The remaining 2.4 gb is related to the cache section even it appears that the size is so low.. You need to use the app cleaner of Android in the Play Store to get the full information of where the data comes.. For Android like that situation, we don't have full information like statistics of apps usage..

  • Ok, thanks. On my tablet (also Android), with 16GBs internal, it had something like 3.22GBs of cached stuff; it did surprise me that my phone had only 33MBs...
    – Sam OT
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 10:36
  • Unfortunately, this doesn't work: I used a cache cleaner (with thousands of reviews, >4*s average), and it claimed to remove 300MBs, but my internal storage is the same. even if it had removed 300MBs, that's still nearly 2GBs missing...
    – Sam OT
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 10:51

For the du command mentioned by alecxs, if you want a better interactive gui, you can use ncdu or gdu. They all have compiled arm static binaries.

https://dev.yorhel.nl/download/ncdu-2.3-linux-aarch64.tar.gz https://github.com/dundee/gdu/releases/download/v5.27.0/gdu_android_arm64.tgz

adb push .\gdu_android_arm64 /data/local/tmp/
adb shell
chmod a+x /data/local/tmp/gdu_android_arm64
/data/local/tmp/gdu_android_arm64 /storage/emulated/0

enter image description here

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